A collaboration between composer Ross Harris and poet Vincent O'Sullivan. The text deals with the impact of soldiering in Gallipoli and France on the brilliant mathematician and gifted amateur musician Alexander Aitken.
A commission of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra with funding from Creative New Zealand, Anthony Ritchie's Gallipoli to the Somme is "quietly anti-war, and aims to make a humanist statement about ordinary people's experience of the war. Ordinary people – soldiers, nurses, lovers, children from different nationalities – they are represented in some small way in this work, through diary entries, poems, traditional texts and songs, and even a military plan of battle."
Anthony draws on the experiences of the central figure of an earlier work, the violin playing Alexander Aitken (see Anthony's Whispers of Gallipoli - Aitken is also the subject of our earlier film of Ross Harris’s Notes from the Front - see above) as the perspective that ties his musical and dramatic structure together.
In 2015 the Auckland Museum hosted a concert of works realised through the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s Letters in Wartime project, in which New Zealand composers responded in music to letters from soldiers and the families of soldiers sent to the First World War. The concert concluded with Kenneth Young's Dona eis requiem.
Another work from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s Letters in Wartime concert. The letters of Charles Stewart Alexander to his cousin Amy Reid while on active service at the Western Front were the inspiration for this work. The young soldier describes the horrors of his first encounters with the killing fields - you can read more about Callum’s approach to this sensitive subject matter here in an interview on the SOUNZ website.
Whispers of Gallipoli was Anthony Ritchie's response to baritone Robert Tucker's commission of a new work about the tragedy of Gallipoli on the the event's 100th anniversary in 2015. Anthony used the words of soldiers, anxious mothers, poets looking back on the campaign and a range of other sources to build a powerful picture of events both at and surrounding Gallipoli.
Brass Poppies, written in collaboration with poet Vincent O'Sullivan, is an anti-war statement centered around the ill-fated assault of William Malone's Wellington Battalion on Chunuk Bair, told simultaneously through the experiences of the soldiers and the women they left behind in Wellington.
Anzacs: A Generation Lost in Legend, a large scale World War I-themed work by Janet Jennings, was commissioned by Creative New Zealand as part of its World War One centenary funding scheme. The work set texts by New Zealand poets Mike Subritzky (ANZAC - The Legend and December Dreamtime) and Donald H. Lea (Stretcher-Bearer). In addition, it set two poems - Raising Recruits and For The Empire - written anonymously in a young Hawera woman’s autograph book by New Zealand soldiers leaving for the front in 1914.